Get information about tuberculosis (TB)

If you have any questions or concerns, phone 867-667-5080 or toll free in Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories 1-800-661-0408 extension 8323.

  • Cough for more than 3 weeks
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating at night
  • Fever
  • No appetite

Who is screened at Whitehorse Health Centre?

The Whitehorse Health Centre provides screening for:

  • pre-employment;
  • school entrance requirements;
  • volunteers; and
  • self-referrals.

Contact the health centre to make an appointment to get screened.

Phone: 867-667-8864

Who is screened at Yukon Communicable Disease Control

Yukon Communicable Disease Control provides screening for:

  • immigration; or
  • a doctor's referral.

Contact Yukon Communicable Disease Control to make an appointment to get screened, or if you have any questions or concerns.

Phone: 867-667-5080

Phone toll free in Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories: 1-800-661-0408 extension 8323

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that's caused by bacteria (germs). When a person with tuberculosis coughs they spread germs. If you inhale those germs, you can get a:

  • tuberculosis infection; or
  • tuberculosis disease.

What is a latent or inactive infection?

When a healthy person breathes in the tuberculosis germ, their immune system may:

  • kill the germ; or
  • build a scar around it.

If their immune system builds a scar around the germ, it may stay alive but inactive in the person's body. This is called a latent tuberculosis infection. If this happens to you and you're healthy, you have a 1 in 10 lifetime chance of the germ waking up and causing tuberculosis. If you have conditions that make it hard for you to fight infections, you have a greater chance of getting the disease.

A person with a latent tuberculosis infection is not sick and cannot spread the disease to others.

What conditions can wake up a latent infection?

  • HIV and AIDS
  • Organ transplant ‒ because of the drugs that must be taken
  • Kidney failure ‒ especially for people who need dialysis
  • Some cancers ‒ because of the drugs that must be taken
  • Recent contact with tuberculosis
  • Chest X-rays showing signs of old tuberculosis
  • Taking medications that weaken your immune system
  • Diabetes
  • If you're underweight

How can you prevent the spread of tuberculosis?

By preventing tuberculosis for yourself, you're protecting your family and friends. You can treat a latent tuberculosis infection by taking special medications:

  • these medications kill the sleeping germs before they have a chance to wake up;
  • you need to take these medications for about 6 to 9 months;
  • you'll need to do blood tests while you're taking the medication; and
  • these medications are free.

What is active tuberculosis?

A person with active tuberculosis is sick with the disease. They can spread it to other people.

If you feel sick see your doctor or local health nurse. You can ask them for a screening test. Depending on your symptoms, they may recommend a test.

Screening tests for tuberculosis may include a:

  • tuberculosis skin test;
  • chest X-ray or CT scan;
  • sputum test; and
  • urine test or other samples (depending on the location of the germ).

If you have tuberculosis you may need to be treated in the hospital at the beginning of your illness.

During the treatment

  • You'll take several special medications for 6 to 9 months.
  • Your blood work will be done regularly to make sure that your body's tolerating the medication.
  • You may have to take other tests such as X-rays or specimen samples (such as sputum).
  • A community nurse or tuberculosis worker may give you each dose of your medication.

Avoid alcohol and drugs

You should avoid alcohol and drugs during treatment because they make your liver work harder while on the medications.

When you're no longer contagious

Your treatment will be completed in your community. You protect your family and friends from tuberculosis by taking medication until you're cured.

If you have active tuberculosis you may spread germs to your family, friends and coworkers. Public health nurses work with you to identify your contacts. To reduce the spread of the disease, nurses will interview and screen your contacts.

If you have a latent tuberculosis infection, we may offer your contacts antibiotics to help prevent the spread. We provide these antibiotics free of charge.

This manual is a reference guide for health professionals in Yukon. It's intended to inform and support consistent and appropriate tuberculosis:

  • screening;
  • diagnosis;
  • prevention; and
  • treatment practices.